Michael Nolan: Westfield Local Heroes 2019
Creating a friendly place for the homeless and lonely
Lazarus Community Centre Geelong
Committed. Generous. Humble
Former priest Michael Nolan has worked tirelessly to establish the Lazarus Community Centre to provide a safe and welcoming place for the most vulnerable and needy people in Geelong.
It’s a place where those living rough or experiencing social isolation can share a daily meal, shower, clean their clothes and watch TV or play pool.
In its first eighteen months of operation, the service has served close to five thousand meals and assisted well over two thousand people to cope better with daily living, says Michael.
He is delighted to be named a Westfield Local Hero as it means more people will learn about Lazarus Community Centre.
“I have a great crew of about twenty volunteers and thanks to the publicity I have eight more waiting to do volunteer training,” says Michael.
“I’m totally chuffed. It gives me a sense of real satisfaction that what we are doing is worthwhile for our clients. It’s great that something good has come through me to the centre.”
The facility is open Monday to Friday and is linked in with other community services so clients can be given referrals for housing and other practical help.
After serving as chairman of the board for twelve months and training a group of leaders, Michael is now a regular volunteer. He pops in regularly through the week and loves to cook at home for his rostered volunteer duty day.
“Our clients come from many complex life situations. A few words of encouragement and support can work minor miracles,” he says.
Westfield Local Heroes are nominated and voted for by their communities, with the three top finalists per Westfield centre each awarded a $10,000 grant for their affiliated organisation.
Lazarus Community Centre’s grant will provide welcome relief from the ongoing stress of finding funds to buy high-quality food to prepare nutritious meals. “This will cover us for six months. That’s a lot of worries straight off my plate,” says Michael.
“I also want to use the funds to add an additional toilet. Sometimes we have three or four people queuing up for our one toilet.”
For further information on the Westfield Local Heroes program, click here.